’12: A Year of Innovation

Posted on April 30, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It’s a year of innovation.  Home runs.  Big wins.  New ideas that produce serious success.  Think I mean 2012?  Let’s hope this year is as memorable in the history books of innovation as 1912.   I noticed that 2012 seems to be the centennial anniversary of some of my favorite brands, so I did a bit of research (and my husband did some too…thanks Yale) only to find that 1912 was a big year for innovation.

Here’s just a partial list of companies, states, brands, and products celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year.  All are the results of innovative thinking in 1912.

In January 1912, New Mexico achieved statehood and close behind, on February 14, 2012,  The State of Arizona .  No new states had joined the Union since 1907, when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.  After Arizona, it wasn’t until 1959 that Alaska became a state.

Oreos were first baked in March 2012 at the Chelsea Market bakery in Manhattan.  Speaking of cookies, Girl Scouts were founded in March 1912.  March was also the anniversary of the cherry trees in Washington DC.  The Mayor of Tokyo City gave a gift of 3000 trees to grow the friendship between Japan and the U.S.

Alolph Zukor, owner of a New York nickelodeon, got the American distribution rights for the movie Queen Elizabeth staring Sarah Bernhardt, and opened on July 12, 1912 as the first full-length drama and that catalyzed Zukor to start the Famous Players Film Company, which produced several classics the following year (The Count of Monte Cristo is one of them).  He later merged with a film distributor, Paramount Pictures.

Fenway Park, the oldest major league ball park still in use, and home to the Boston Red Sox, celebrated it’s 100 birthday in April 2012.

Chevrolet made their first car, the ‘classic six’ named after race car driver Louis Chevrolet.

LL Bean Leon Leonwood Bean created a direct marketing mailer for his new hunting shoe in 1912, creating an innovative way to sell.

The President of the Associated Advertising Clubs of America, George Coleman, decided to form a National Vigilance committee in 1912 to focus on regional and national advertising after seeing the success of a number of local clubs started earlier in the year, and founded an innovative way to help customers trust the businesses claims, The Better Business Bureau.

Another innovative sweet, Lifesavers, was created in 1912. Chocolate maker Clarence Crain was looking for a candy that would not melt in the hot summer sun.  He came up with the idea of making a mint hard candy, and to differentiate his mints from others, so he punched a hole in the middle, and the result was a ‘mini life preserver’ which he called Life Savers.

An innovation in American Football change the game forever: the forward pass.  The rules up until 1912 said that a forward pass could only be thrown 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and go no further than 20 yards.   But in 1912, the rules were changed; the ball could be thrown from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage to as far forward as they wanted…and the Hail Mary pass was born.

Innovations in 1912 changed the way rash was collected.  The garbage truck was invented.

Cellophane (clear plastic) was patented and first commercially produced in 1912 by Swiss chemist Dr. Jacques Brandenberger, DuPont later acquired the patent rights.

To be fair, 1910 seems to be a decade of innovation.  1911 was the year IBM was founded,  Norwegians were the first to reach the South Pole that year too.

A hundred years from now, in 2112, will leaders look back to 2012 with the same awe and respect that we have for leaders in 1912?  Let’s hope so.  What will it take for 2012 to be our  year of great innovation?  What are you doing in your company to make it so?

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